Why Nightmares Might Actually Be Good For You

We’ve all been there. You’re being chased, or shot at, or looking something absolutely terrifying in the face — until you wake up in a panic.

Nobody likes having violent or scary dreams, these night visions may serve an important purpose for your mental health.

As a new video from New York Magazine, “The Good Side of Bad Dreams,” explains, some sleep researchers have proposed that bad dreams serve as a form of emotional release, allowing us to let go of the stresses and anxieties that plague us in our waking lives.

“The things that concern us most when we’re awake continue to mess with us when we’re asleep,” the video explains. “Your unconscious brain takes your abstract fears and turns them into stories in the form of nightmares.”

Here’s how it works: The nightmare essentially takes a fear and turns it into a memory. This is helpful, since memories are easier for the mind to cope with because it represents something that occurred in the past, than “vague anxieties about the world around us,” the video’s narrator says.

So if you’re one of the up to 8 percent of adults who sometimes experience nightmares, don’t worry too much about it! It’s just your brain’s way of putting your fears behind you.

Check out the full video above.

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